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May 29, 2015

Nothing Good Ever Comes From Speaking in Elevators

From banking to caregiving, it’s better to listen in order to get the job.

In the elevator last week on my way to a SAGEWorks workshop, How to Seek Employment within the Banking & Financial Industry, I noticed an elegant, mature, white gentleman with close cropped silver hair in a beautifully tailored dark blue suit and an expensive silk tie. I asked him if he will be teaching us how to get a job in banking. He replied, “Oh, no, I’m here to learn about that.”

A minute later I met the person who led the workshop, a Latino woman from JP Morgan Chase, Angelique Y. Pabon. My assumptions taught me I’m not immune to sexist and racist assumptions (so I guess I have something new to add to my LinkedIn profile).

Agelique_Bruce
Two typical stodgy bankers, Angelique Y. Pabon and Bruce Vecchio

Angelique and her colleague Bruce Vecchio were fun and wonderful…but of course you knew they would be when I mentioned banking and finance. Angelique mapped out where certain transferable skills will be of value, even if you’ve never been in finance before. Have you managed a construction project? You probably have what it takes to be a project manager in a bank’s facilities department. Were you an executive assistant to the head of a record label? Great, become the executive assistant to the head of collateralized debt obligations. I’m sure there’s a case to be made that music is a lot like repackaged debt

I worked in banking and financial services for 20 years and my colleagues, from the CEO down, were all much more supportive of LGBT-people than my colleagues at a New York City car dealership where I did a short stint. Despite the fact that the owner of the dealership is gay! Plus, they sell Subarus!

Beyond the industry-specific workshops, SAGEWorks also recently. brought together six panelists for a very special episode of Get Tips and Advice Directly from Employers Who Hire. Things got real.

Natasha Leath, Director of Business Development at The Good Kind Group, a recruitment firm, explained how the job interview begins in the elevator. After a workout one day, Natasha went back to her office to change so she was not wearing her usual business attire. The woman sharing the elevator with Natasha was cursing like a sailor at her babysitter, in full voice. Guess who was going to an interview at The Good Kind Group? Fortunately, Natasha is a good person and gave the woman another chance after she explained why it’s not valuable to act like the worst person in the world in public.

Panelists_Greet
It’s not often you get access to hiring managers so the employer panel was swarmed.


Another fascinating takeaway from the employer panel is how companies are forming to support unaddressed needs of the LGBT-community. Joe Fisher, co-founder and director of Renewal Care Partners, started his business to provide culturally competent care givers. Older LGBT-folks, who were out, are retreating back into the closet during their final days for fear of what less-than-progressive caregivers would think or do. Joe makes sure all of his company’s caregivers are there to care, not to judge. Imagine the alternative--you’re trying to watch Wheel of Fortune and your nurse starts throwing holy water at you!

For those of us looking for jobs, make sure you check out all the new services popping up to support LGBT-folks. And remember to mind your manners in the elevator.

-Jeff Stein, communications consultant, SAGEWorks

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